It's been MONTHS since I updated.
Owen is so, so big now.

I'm trying to update here: http://marymactavish.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/cute-kid-plus-how-i-intend-to-use-this-blog/

Sick to pieces of LJ's DOSes, and honestly, DW, as much as it's awesome, is damned inconvenient, it's hard to link to and from, and it doesn't have stuff like "post from twitter," I have to come here and link specifically, and I do a lot of internetting on my phone anymore.

But I did want to say that Owen is now, as is developmentally appropriate, following our curled-tail dog DJ around and asking, "Anus? Poop?"

And he's so big now, and smart.
familyvalues: Owen at the park, December 20, 2011 - I made this from my own photo. (Owenninemonths)

Tonight nearly killed me.

I was rocking Owen, he was drifting off to sleep, staring at the stars, talking (incoherently, but) about them a little, and we heard a distant train.
"Dat?"
"Did you hear the freight train?"
"Da!" *listening* then a minute later, the train sound again.
"Ah!"
"Yes, there's the freight train again. It's across the lake."
Quiet for a minute, then a tentative "...ding?"
"I didn't hear the sound of the crossing gate dinging, did you?"
"'o." (Yes, that's how he says "no." "Oh.")
then "gay .... ding?" He said "gate"! more or less anyhow.
I replied, "Crossing gates go ding, right."
"Gay .... doe ding."
A sentence!
Then his eyes closed, he drifted off, relaxed, and was asleep. Then with his eyes closed, his mouth curved into a giant D of a smile, and he said, in his sleep, "gay ding."

His happy thought, it seems, is that crossing gates go ding. What a lovely world to live in.




VIDEO0126 a video by marymactavish on Flickr.


I wish flickr posted directly to dreamwidth. That'd make my life easier.

I haven't written much in an organized way about Owen since he turned one year, which is a pity. He's growing and developing so fast. He is an awesome kid. I need to write this stuff down.

I need a more recent icon, too.
familyvalues: Owen at the park, December 20, 2011 - I made this from my own photo. (Owenninemonths)
I have made a list of questions to respond to, and will continue adding them as people ask them where ever -- here, facebook, g+, livejournal, or out and about in the park.

I'm going to present the questions, some slightly edited, in bold, without attribution, then answer below them, one at a time, over time, trying for at least one a week, hoping for one a day.

If I were to sit down and observe Owen for the first time, what would I see?

Wow.

I think people who don't know him well and first see him, if he's at all awake, notice that he's headstrong and super-active. You can use words like brave, and fearless, and bold, and confident, and spirited, or whatever, but he's basically headstrong and hyper. ;)

That's a first impression thing, and it depends. Sometimes you might see him and think he's older because he (for example) can sit down with a book for 20 minutes and "read" it out loud with intonations, sort of telling himself a story, or can play with almost anything for a long time. He usually talks to himself while he does. But he's so active so much of the time, and I think a lot of people notice that first. I am starting to get sympathy comments and glances from other parents.

Another thing people notice, if he's somehow restrained or oddly calm -- if he's being held, or in his stroller or a high chair -- is that he adores interaction with other people and will seek it out and show off for it. He'll meet someone's eyes and just beam, or they'll laugh at something that's not him, and he'll laugh, then maybe a little louder, to get their attention, then it's all "how cute, I laughed and the baby's laughing!" and he's got his interaction.

We have inside-joke language to describe how he charms people, and he does. He charms them, he makes them smile and squee and come over and talk to him. I've heard people in other aisles at the supermarket: "Honey, did you see that baby? He's so cute. He was smiling at me!"

He's either going to save the world with his natural charm, or bring about its end. We hope he uses his powers for good.


organic chicken and strawberries for lunch by marymactavish
organic chicken and strawberries for lunch
familyvalues: Owen at the park, December 20, 2011 - I made this from my own photo. (Owenninemonths)
owenP1040594 by marymactavish
owenP1040594, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

I do much better if I keep up with things.

Owen has turned one and become a toddler-not-a-baby. I want to update this blog but I'm sort of stuck on where to start other than that he's strong and smart and cute and nice.

So I'll toss out "ask me anything", though I might break the answers into more than one post.

Please ask me anything you're remotely curious about (here, there, via email, etc.) with regard to Owen and his personality, development, our relationships with him; our relationships as a family with each other and the rest of the world; polyamory; whatever else. I'll use them, with gratitude, as a launch pad.

Say you were a parent of a smart, active toddler, and were looking forward to probable but not definite homeschooling. Let's assume from the very start that you are a strong-agnostic queer-friendly household and would rather not promote homophobia or discrimination against queer people.

Let's say you really believe in Girl Scouts and think they rock, but assume that your kid is not going to be within that gender range by the time he's the right age.

Do you consider Boy Scouts for a few years down the line?

I have friends who would never consider them because they still don't allow queer people to be leaders at least, and because they still have loose rules about God.





I have friends who point out that some troops are liberal as far as those things go and think it's more important to get involved as a liberal, queer-friendly parent and change things from the inside.

I have friends who think that what the BSA offers as an organization and what troops offer on the ground level are more important than the BSA's problems, and can't be easily gained elsewhere.

I'd also consider Navigators (which would probably mean starting a group) and less likely, Spiral Scouts. Campfire has changed a lot since I was in (what was then) Campfire Girls when I was little, it's more after-school oriented like the Y now than it is like a scouting group. (That was a vital need and I'm glad someone filled it, but it's not what we're looking for.)

What social, extracurricular, nature-and-service oriented groups would you consider for your kid? Gender-specificity is both okay with us and not essential.



~~~

Dreamwidth allows openID posting, so if you don't have an account, you can still respond here, but if you saw my link on LJ, G+, or FB and want to answer there, feel free. And that leads me to another question: I'm pondering changing platforms to something like wordpress and just linking that to places like DW and those above. Opinions? Alternatives, better ideas, etc.? Which platform might engender more interaction? (Yes, I know writing differently and more often would help.)

Also, Owen turned one a couple of weeks ago, I want to make a post about that, and have had a million distractions and time-eaters (including the boy himself comprising about 500k of those) in the way of doing it "right." I'll do it by the end of this weekend, though. I want to make a nice post and all. ;)
emmaP1030295 by marymactavish
emmaP1030295, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

Dear Tinderbox Homeschool: THANK YOU THANK YOU.
Everyone else with kids or who cares about kids: However you intend to educate your kids, homeschool or private or unschool or public, whether or not you intend to send them to preschool, and especially before you choose a school, PLEASE read this. This is absolutely everything I know to be true, based on my own education and experience, but supported by Rebecca's education, experience, and professional research, about early childhood education, academics, and play.

http://tinderbox.homeschooljournal.net/2012/03/02/early-learning

I have a post coming eventually, really, about my own educational philosophies, and at this point, my preference is still to homeschool Owen, but that might change according to the wishes of his other parents, and what he personally needs: homeschooling isn't best for every kid, or every kid/parent combination, and we don't know what will be available to us as he ages. But I get so frustrated with programs that make kids spend half their day waiting, or learning in ways that don't suit them well, or being pushed academically in ways their brains aren't ready for, when the same learning could be done more experientally and appropriately.

And believe me, Owen will be appropriately socialized, he'd see to that himself even if we didn't.

Maybe I should set aside dedicated time to research and write that soon, because reading stuff like this gets my fire up.

*the photo is my grandniece, Emma, researching kinesiology and shadows ;)

familyvalues: Owen at the park, December 20, 2011 - I made this from my own photo. (Owenninemonths)
Last week, Owen crossed into his twelfth month, the final month of his first year.

I can hardly believe it's flown by so fast. He used to be just tiny, right? And now he's gigantic!

We won't know his official stats until his first-year well-baby appointment in three weeks, but he seems to be about 30" tall, and though he's not chunky, he's solidly built and heavy.

owenP1030343 by marymactavish
owenP1030343, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.



He's so strong. He can climb everything! His new climby toy out in the yard has a four-rung ladder. The first time he tried it, he seemed puzzled. The second, shortly after, he sailed right up, one foot after the other, one foot per step, then clapped when he got to the top. We keep a fierce eye on him, he is a monkey.

....

This is me trying to write an 11-month post for Family Values about Owen, and failing. I just don't have words right now.

So:

  • He's testing us about biting. We are being firm and resolute and consistent. So is he.
  • He has the best laugh *ever*, and looks for ways to use it.
  • He is eating pretty much everything now that we can prepare in ways that he doesn't have to use his (non-existent) molars.
  • He has five teeth, two on bottom and three on top, with a gap in the top, so he has both lateral incisors and one center incisor on top. It's danged cute.
  • He can put himself back to sleep at night about half the time, we help him the other half. (I know this because our bedrooms share a wall, and I hear him get up and stir and talk to himself then go back to sleep.)
  • He has his babbly-talking sounds, and babbly-singing sounds, but few actual words yet.
  • He can almost run.
  • He has grown-up friends at our local pharmacy and will climb up their bodies if they have time to play with him. They love him. The checkers at the supermarket know his name, too. The nurses at my rheumatologist's office come out to see "that baby." He is so social.


I am planning a small family birthday party for him, his first birthday party. How weird is this, he was just a tiny thing yesterday. What happened?




....

I love our family so much. We are good partners, all of us. We take care of each other, we each pull our own weight, we don't hold grudges. We really get along. This is the most familyish I've ever felt, I think, and I'll do what it takes to keep things happy and healthy. I find myself valuing the work and compromises I get to put in to be a part of this. I am becoming a better person for it.

Right now, Audrey and Casey, with help now and then from Casey's friend Andy, and Audrey's dad Walter, are building a big shed in our back yard, so they can have a workshop while keeping the yard safe for Owen. When it's done, we'll finish putting up the swingset and shade structures (probably just a shade sail and a big umbrella, the neighbors removed the trees that were shading us from their yard *sigh*), and I'll gradually start working on a garden. We won't be here forever, so we don't want to make huge physical changes, but I need something with vegetables in it. I'm also putting English daisies, johnny-jump-ups, creeping thyme, and dichondra in the lawns, so they're softer -- the current thick bermuda grass is unpleasant -- and so Owen has baby-safe flowers to pick.

It's been a stressful few months, with losing two dogs (one to old age, one to cancer); a cancer scare for our beloved DJ, the dog who's been with us longest (it turned out to be a stage 1 mast cell tumor, the best kind of cancer if she had to have cancer, she's fine now); a couple of bad colds for Owen (his first illnesses); and my own rheumatoid arthritis flaring badly, but now it seems like we're moving out of that tunnel and coming into something more bright and easy.

Our baby is a toddler now. We are exhausted.
familyvalues: Owen at the park, December 20, 2011 - I made this from my own photo. (Owenninemonths)

P1030080 a video by marymactavish on Flickr.

Yesterday, Audrey and I went to the Oakland Museum of California's famous white elephant sale preview to look for a china hutch.

Casey gave me a big curio cabinet years ago, when I was looking for a place to store the precious random pieces of my grandmother's china that I inherited. Her sets went to people who put dibs on them (at her request) before she died, I just didn't feel like going through her stuff and claiming it, so one day she took me through her house and asked me to choose. I picked out a few precious things -- the high chair and rocking chair her grandfather had built, a few other little things, then she gave me her old cast iron camping set (I'm the only person I know with a cast iron waffle iron that can go over fire embers or on a wood stove), and some of her favorite random pieces of china, tea cups collected when she visited England, her depression glass. I love it all, and a lot of it's usable, and a lot of it needs to be visible as it's beautiful.

And what I really wanted for them wasn't a display cabinet but a china cabinet, something I could store things in like a cupboard but pull them out for use now and then, and as Owen's gotten older and speedier, Audrey was getting nervous about the glass in the bottom half of the curio cabinet. So we hit the white elephant sale and very quickly found a lovely mid-century (but not valuable antique, so very reasonably priced) china hutch with glass above and drawers below, and a matching sideboard/buffet thing with drawers, where we'll put our router, printer, and related office supplies where Owen can't pull them down. ("I was wondering why we'd gone offline," said Casey, the first time Owen pulled the router down.)

While we were there, we found other wonderful things, a baby backpack for hiking, a mesh ring-sling, an the most fabulous toy, which is illustrated in the video above. When we set it down in front of Owen and dropped a ball in the top, he practically shivered with delight, and played with it all afternoon and evening yesterday. It's beautifully built, sturdy, fabulous, and cost three bucks. I love the white elephant sale.

But what I was really going to say was:

1) This is our first big furniture purchase as a household. This is ours, all of us, and that feels really awesome. Having Owen was a commitment, but somehow, buying furniture feels like a big statement, too, even if we're not trying to make one. It basically says, "Look, we're happy, we're doing this." We are very family. I love that, it just makes my heart sing. Emotionally, I feel more centered and solid and family than ever in my life.

and also 2) Owen was there for three hours, and was so tired near the end. Regardless, when I wandered around the outside of the warehouse where the sale was held, with him in the backpack Audrey had picked up, someone remarked, "Your baby looks very happy there," and so he was, watching the coots and the kayak in the estuary and looking at people. And even inside in the sling earlier, though he got a bit warm and uncomfy and fussy in the crowd, he was congenial most of the time, and we wandered around stealing souls of people who thought he was cute.

As Audrey and I were finally leaving, finally, after going back inside to look for board books, we ran into a woman who said, "Oh what a sweet baby, hang on a second," and she called over another woman. "Michelle! Come here! See the baby!" And as they chatted with us, and realized that we were both Owen's parents (assuming, I assume, we are "a couple"), they let us know that they had raised one of their ex-partner's children, and he was a delight, and so on -- they were together as a couple and happy to talk to another pair of lesbian parents, I'm assuming. And we didn't correct them, because the point was that we were both Owen's parents, and we are. And they were sweet, and he smiled sweetly at them, and all was joyful.

And in the end, we got the hutch and sideboard, the ball toy, a mailbox shape sorter like I had as a child, a ball, several board books about puppies and cars, a baby backpack, mesh sling, a safety thing for Owen for when I get a scooter again or when we fly, all for a few hundred dollars total, and we figure we made out like bandits.


Testing the backpack alongside the Oakland estuary.
Owen thinks it's awesome.

If you get a chance to go to the Oakland Museum's white elephant sale, do it. It's awesome.

familyvalues: Owen at the park, December 20, 2011 - I made this from my own photo. (Owenninemonths)
Reading by marymactavish
Reading, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

Yesterday, Owen ticked over to ten months old! He celebrated by standing straight up from the floor, steadily walking about eight steps, then gracefully sitting down. Over the past 48 hours or so, he's transitioned from a baby who is experimenting with a few steps to get from one thing to some other near thing to a toddler who falls down a lot. Like the first word becoming clear then becoming speaking, it's hard sometimes to tell when walking starts. Yesterday, we called it for-real walking. So now comes the next couple of rounds of baby-safeing. ;)

Owen eats nearly everything now. Mostly, we don't give him what's obviously junk food, very salty food, cows milk, or honey. But he's had pizza, cookies, and like many toddlers, gets at least a handful of cheerios-type cereal every day. Even with that, he can eat himself to popping on broccoli as well.

And we're shifting ourselves to organic (or at least antibiotic-free) dairy and (for the omnivores here) meats, so that we can start him out without antibiotics in his food. There are some very well-treated cows, like those at Clover-Stornetta, who are so healthy that they get few antibiotics anyhow, so I don't fuss that much when I can find Clover. I wish we still had chickens, as Owen loves eggs, but we tend to get the more environmentally friendly and chicken-friendly versions of those, too. He mostly self-feeds and when it's not purely finger-food, he makes a huge awesome mess. Until you've seen a baby push oatmeal-and-yogurt into its mouth with hands, you've missed real mess-making.

One of my favorite things about our recent life is that Owen plays like crazy, chase-the-baby, and roll-the-ball, and stack-and-knock-down-the-tower and he likes it best when we're all three with him. So most evenings, for some big chunk of time, all of us hang out in the living room and play with Owen. It wears him right out, and delights all of us. His laugh is infectious.

His favorite things are things-that-roll, and animals. This means that he'll chase after people in wheelchairs, kids on scooters at the park, and whatever he can make roll at our house, balls and toy cars and pieces of his stacking towers and plastic drinking glasses and the removable legs from our storable tables. He adores the balls from his pound and roll tower. They make a lot of noise on our wooden floor, and roll fast and far. He also plays with them with the tower, now and then.

His relationship with DJ is one of the most delightful things in my life. He'll put up his face for kisses from her. Yesterday he bit a ravioli piece (raviol?) in half, ate some, and gave the rest to her. She loves him and puts up with a lot, too. She is teaching him about caring for and loving dogs as family. He is teaching her that we will protect her and not put him on the bed when she's resting.

Otherwise, he loves watching birds, knows crows from geese from jays, and looks for birds in the sky or trees, especially geese, crows, and hummingbirds, when he hears their calls. He also loves the goats and rabbits at our local farm, and Kimberly's kittens.

And we're so glad he loves books! He can sit peacefully in a grownup's lap, or on the rug, and listen to the same story several times, or one after the other. His favorites so far are Margaret Wise Brown's "Big Red Barn" and Rosemary Wells's "Max's First Word." And if any book has animals in it, that's also good. We are still collecting a library, being as though the public library has board books, they're not lent, and are seriously sucked-on. We read them there, though. We have wishlists at both Powell's (mary at geographile dot com, "owen's wishlist") and Amazon, because so many books I love are out of print (seriously, Stella and Roy How can that be out of print, it's mandatory) -- but we certainly don't need books that are new or purchased-just-for-us. If you have books from that list or that you think Owen will love, you're done with them, and want to pass on to us, before you pop them in the bag for goodwill or your local library, feel free to consider Owen's voracious book appetite! Mind you, he sucks on them too, but he loves reading them.

He had his first real illness a couple of weeks ago, a bad cold. He's been so robustly healthy otherwise.

Santa brought him two teeth (bottom central incisors) over Christmas weekend, and he acquired his top left central incisor this past week. Somewhere in there, the top left lateral incisor showed up but was tucked away so we didn't notice it right away.

He's still delightful, makes us laugh, loves it when we laugh, loves it when we kiss, loves visiting people, loves going to the park, loves playing with his friend around the corner. He crawls outside when he can, and I just follow him around the back yard keeping him alive, as it's not really baby safe yet. Over this winter and spring, once we finish the garden shed (the construction of which is the primary reason the yard isn't safe enough), we'll make a shade structure, garden stuff, and a small play structure for Owen. Then I reckon we'll rarely come inside. He's an outside kind of kid.

So on we go toward 11 months and a year. We've decided to follow my own family's child-birthday thing and have small parties, so Owen's first birthday will be almost entirely family, a couple of family-of-choice people, and no kids aside from his one friend around the corner. Future birthdays will probably be similar. I like the idea of having one small party so as not to be overwhelming for any of us, but if anyone wants to meet us (me and Owen, most likely) somewhere like the playground to hang out and celebrate, we're fine with little mini-parties here and there.

I had no idea what being a mom would be like, but I am happy with how it's turning out.

Tonight, Owen woke up not too long after going down to bed for the night, fussy and whimpering and upset, and clearly still exhausted.

After Audrey tried to settle him by nursing, it didn't take long to become obvious that he was very gassy and uncomfortable.

That meant desperate measures, so Casey danced him around on his shoulders, as Audrey followed with the laptop, playing "Donkey Riding."





There's not much Owen likes better than dancing on his Daddy's shoulders, and he was smiling, but still a bit uncomfortable. Casey handed him off to me, and he was still fussy and gassy, so I sat with him, loved him, rocked him, rubbed his back and tummy, and finally, half an hour of rocking and lullabies and considerable farting later, he fell asleep.

We have teamwork down.

Recently I found out that a relative I'm not very close to officially "disapproves of" our "lifestyle."

Argh, I hate that word, "lifestyle." It doesn't work for sexual orientation, it doesn't work for polyamory -- at least, not as we live it.

Our lifestyle involves dancing a little boy around until he can fart a little. It involves making sure well-baby appointments are scheduled so that at least two parents can go, because we're all interested. Usually, three of us go. It involves laundry and walking the dog and figuring out which furniture needs child safety and earthquake safety retention straps. It involves going to bed at night exhausted and waking up delighted to share the dawn with one of the most confident, joyful children I've ever known.

So for whichever folks out there disapprove of our lifestyle? this is what you're disapproving of. And I don't need your kind of approval.
familyvalues: Owen at the park, December 20, 2011 - I made this from my own photo. (Owenninemonths)
christmas2011familyDSCN0045

So much love this year .... on the 24th, we visited Owen's "Nina," Casey's mother, where one end of the extended family was gathered for dinner and presents: Pat ("Nina"), her partner Gil, Casey's sister Lori, her husband Michael, and the blended family of cousins, Ben, Chandra, and Aidan. Ben and Chandra were raised in Michael's Jewish household when they were younger, so Pat made a hannukiyah for the mantel with lovey votives, and we had a Hannukah evening as well. Owen slept through most of it, but arrived to get some presents before Casey, Audrey, and I left for home with him again. Christmas morning, Pat and Gil came down to our house with Chandra and Ben, and Audrey's parents Michelle and Walter came up to us, and we served brunch for them, all living grandparents together. (My own parents are both dead.) Later we even attempted to contact Owen's great-grandmother (his "GrandMia") on Skype, but that didn't work well today, technology was being a bear. We'll do that later this week, though.

Then in the evening, our good friends Kimberly and Aidon showed up with a ginger-pear tarte tatin for us!

It's been so lovely this week, we have so much family love. I am sad for the people in polyamorous or other "alternative" families who have to stay closeted or otherwise hide what they have, when it's rare and lovely, who have to make sure their parents don't try to wrest custody of the children from them, who must not let coworkers know of their joy, who live in communities where their kids can't bring friends home because their families are weird or sinful. We are lucky, and we don't take this support, community, and love for granted.

Owen in a grandmother-sandwich
~~~The rest of our first Christmas with Owen~~~
familyvalues: Owen at the park, December 20, 2011 - I made this from my own photo. (Owenninemonths)
owenIMAG1096 by marymactavish
owenIMAG1096, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

To quote my friend Katie's grandmother: ‎"Nine months in, nine months out, then he's a mensch!"

Though technically, Owen was inside for nine months and eight days, Katie calls this Owen's "menschday," and I'll go for that.

Poor little pumpkin currently has his first real bug, a mild cold, with slight sniffles, and he's teething hard so he's not sleeping that well, and is quicker to fuss.

He's a bit behind on the teething, but we're okay with that. He's still on the verge of walking, and we just childproofed every cabinet within his reach, just in time for him to reach all the drawers, so that's next. We have a medication lock box on our Christmas wishlist, and if it doesn't show up, we'll simply order it ourselves, as that will be just in time to put high shelves in the bathroom and put the medication up.

Owen is still such a joy. At his nine-month well-baby exam, he passed with flying colors. He's in great shape, all around. I am so lucky that we have such an easy baby as my rheumatoid arthritis is still flaring like crazy. Though we aren't purely attachment parents by any stretch, we do a fair bit of that sort of thing, but I just can't handle it with my wrists, knees, and feet the way they've been. I'm not sure Owen would be excited about mostly baby-wearing, but even if he were, I can't handle it. We have a fabulous stroller that he loves, though, I can actually take both Owen and DJ on a walk at the same time with it.

Adventure-boy adores our local playground. Yesterday, he discovered the big circular slide. Though he can't use it himself, I put him up about as high as my shoulders, then hold his sweater to help keep him upright and let him go at whatever speed that allows, usually pretty fast. Yesterday, we did that a million or so times before I got too tired, he certainly wasn't tired of it himself.

And he loves other babies! We have friends on our block, a family that includes a baby eight weeks older than Owen, and they like each other, as do DJ and their family dog, so that means visits, and trips to the playground together.

One of my favorite things is Owen's relationship with DJ. They're total buddies. One of these days, perhaps I'll be in time with video to catch Owen as, when he hears DJ's claws coming down the hallway tiktiktik from the bedroom, rushes from where he is to meet her part way, then he sits down and she kisses him and he laughs.

Owen is happiest when the whole family is together, when we get on the bed and play or rest with him (each adult in the family has his own bedroom, but Casey's bed is set up near a window, so Owen can look out, and we can sort of fence the space with our three bodies for him to romp around in.) Any time he's with just one of us and another of us comes in, he's happier, and if all three adults and DJ are with him, sometimes it seems he'll implode with joy.

He's asleep now, and I have an ear open, waiting for him to awaken. Some days he sleeps for two hours, some days for 20 minutes. It's my first coffee break of the day, and sometimes my only real down time until evening, so I covet it. I write rushed blog posts, I take quick showers, I rest. Today I should be making fruitcake, which I should also have done every day for the past four weeks. If I don't get it done today, I'll do it tonight after Casey and Audrey are home from work, but I was hoping for earlier. I also need to make everything that can be made ahead for Christmas morning brunch at our house, to grab a couple more gifts off Amazon (I love shopping small businesses, but Owen's sick of shopping and I have sore knees and feet, so stores just hurt right now), and I need to fold the laundry desperately. But what I'm doing is lying here writing and drinking coffee. DJ's in a sunbeam near my feet. And this is as it should be. It's fine.

familyvalues: This is our son midway through his inside development. (20w)
Chicken head boy by marymactavish
Chicken head boy, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

He's asleep! I can write!

Well, usually it's "he's asleep! I can fold laundry!" (or stage/photograph the stuff we need to sell on craigslist, or unload the dishwasher, or shower, or nap.)

I realized, when I was noticing how close we are to Owen's 9-month well-baby checkup, that I hadn't really posted here when he rolled over to 8, and I like to do that. A friend is currently going through her fairly sparse childhood photos and her mom's written memories/notes/letters, and pointed out how valuable having records has been to her. I have a blank book that I'd intended as Owen's baby book and never got started on it. I'm not an album-keeping sort of person but I really should -- for him. Among my most valued mementos, not even of my own memories, are the notes my grandmother made of my mom's childhood, including even a snippet of my mom's hair. And this journal is part of that. (Maybe I'll do a monthly print-and-save for him, too.)

Anyway: So Owen's rolled over to 8 months old, and is currently in his ninth month. He's generally a convivial, happy, fun baby, but offer to change his diaper or get him dressed and omg, it's wrestling a bag of snakes. It's not that he wants to be in a messy diaper or a shirt that he's just poured water (probably my own glass of water, even) all over, but the changing thing? Let's just say he doesn't think change is necessarily good. And anything that might make him fall asleep is evil. He even fights nursing, when he's clearly hungry, if he's also sleepy. We need to catch him at just the right degree of tiredness, or else wait until he's almost desperately over-tired, before he'll fall asleep with any ease at all. I think that both having clothing changed and stopping to sleep seriously cramp his fun-having style and he has no time for them.

He's still cruising like crazy but has seemed to be less in danger of imminent walking since he got really good at crawling. When he couldn't crawl well he needed to be on the verge of walking, but now he's a speedy crawler and holding steady for a bit.

He has said a clear "daddy" a couple of times, in context, but hasn't used it regularly, and seems right on the edge of "DJ" and "Mama," and I think I've heard "hi!" And he waves. It's wonderful.

We really need to build his book library, but I don't want to go spend huge chunks on board books (we'll get him new picture books, I want to support the industry and authors, but board books are for eating ;) ) so if you want to help us out this year, we'd love it if you'd look at our registry (for powell's, use mary |at| geographile.com and "owen's wishlist") and see if you've got some of those books but are done with them, and can send them to us cheapo media-mail. I'm happy to send a shipping address of one sort or another to folks who need it.

Eating board books, by the way, is part of literacy development. Owen started out nomming his books, but that's evolved into loving to have stories read to him. I can read "Freight Train" (Donald Crews) or "Big Red Barn" (Margaret Wise Brown) over and over. If he's sleepy, he might start flipping the pages, nomming them, or even tossing the book before I'm feeling quite finished, but mostly he likes looking at pictures and hearing the story. When he's beyond danger of totally trashing the books by eating or ripping them, we'll move onto regular picture books.

Owen also adores dogs. He and DJ have a truly sweet, loving relationship. I knew she'd be good with him, but it's beyond my dreams. She's so patient and gentle. But all dogs make him happy, little "it's like a dog, but smaller!" tiny chihuahuas out with people at the store, the labs and bernese mountain dogs that hang out in front of Peet's, and we go to the dog park as much for him as for DJ. He loves watching dogs playing fetch. (DJ's fine with that, as long as it's other dogs. She doesn't understand the point of the game.)

Today is errands day, and I hope, dog park day. Maybe it'll be library day too. We don't schedule these things much. Tonight will be the first of many walk-around-the-neighborhood-and-look-at-lights nights. I'm so excited about this Christmas, as he's too young to care about gifts. It'll be all about crinkly paper, bright lights, and singing. It's helping me focus on the same things, which is awesome.

Casey enculturates Owen by marymactavish
Casey enculturates Owen, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

I wish I could have gotten a better picture of this, at dawn, as we watched Curiosity leave for Mars, but there's only so much a phone can do, so far.

mom^2

Nov. 22nd, 2011 11:58 am
IMG_9325.jpg by ljellis
IMG_9325.jpg, a photo by ljellis on Flickr.

Ages ago, someone asked me (here? elsewhere?) what we were doing about Mother-naming, and now that Owen's been asleep for 45 minutes, I probably have a handful of minutes left to discuss it.

We haven't decided.

Or rather, we aren't worrying about it. We tend to refer to each other as either Mama or Mommy, and Casey refers to each of us similarly. It's sort of like how kids might have two grandparents they call "Grandma." If they ever need to get specific, they can narrow it down with another name, but "Grandma" is a good enough label. When I was young, we had a lot of loved ones, oddly enough, named "Barbara" -- my sister, my godmother, the woman across the street who babysat me. We added a last name to the ones who weren't my sister, when necessary.

Owen will know the difference, we're just not worried. This one will be fine.

Over the past two days, I used my phone to record a couple of really cute videos to show his gorgeous, deep chortle when he's feeling giggly and silly, and just discovered that I've been recording without sound. I'm not sure why, I'll have to explore, but POO. It's such a lovely laugh, I wanted to show you. I recently misplaced/lost my purse, which had my camera in it, great sadness. I go through about one camera a year, because they either break or in this case, I lose them. I feel like an irresponsible child about it, and I resist getting myself a new one, but I probably will try before Christmas anyhow, because Christmas and all, and Owen being 9 months then, and shiny lights and adorable happy baby and all that.



(Lisa Ellis took this photo last May. Wow, has he grown.)
Rocking Owen to sleep just now for his morning nap, I was briefly overwhelmed, while holding him as he drifted off to sleep, and I marvelled at his little face, at how welcomed this boy was.

News of Audrey's pregnancy was greeted with nearly unanimous joy, Owen's birth was celebrated by at least tens, if not hundreds of people, and he continues to be adored by family members and dear friends of whom I simply don't think to number.

He's just a baby, but I do not take for granted your support, our loved ones' support. In some (many?) families like ours, extended relatives shun us or at least think we're too weird to really trust, and there is no strong social group or community. Owen was born into a giant puddle of love. He was born into strong community, into a great tangle of arms that will keep him safe and sound. We might be the core of that tangle, but that tangle supports us too.

I hope I've expressed my thanks to you adequately. I'm not sure it's possible to express it completely.


Mary reads Freight Train to Owen




Now here's a little book review:

I first read Freight Train, by Donald Crews, in the early 80s, when I was first working with infants and toddlers. I have it memorized, of course. The illustrations are old-school airbrushing, and just perfect, simple and colorful and bright without being simplistic. Donald Crews illustrates motion perfectly, night perfectly. I have never known a child who disliked this book, I've known a lot who have enjoyed it, and even more who have adored it.

It is Owen's first-ever favorite book. He's now 7 1/2 months old, and he'll bring me Freight Train and sit on the ground in front of it, or ask to get into my lap. I read it once, or (so far) up to five times in a row with him. Three times in a row is about average. He turns the pages as I finish a line, and I watch his eyes scan left to right*.

If you are stuck on a baby shower or new baby or first birthday book, go find the board book version of Freight Train. For kids who aren't eating or mauling their books anymore, look for the hardbound paper-page copy, if you're pretty sure they don't own it yet.

I've got lots of ideas for Best Picture Books Ever, feel free to ask. That is the best first picture book ever, but there are a lot more out there to follow up with.

*Literacy takes awhile to develop, and is a continual and gradual process. It moves from nomming on board books to sitting with them to turning pages and scanning in the right direction; when I worked with quite a lot of kids who had recently immigrated to the US from Israel, it was fascinating to watch them figure out that some books scanned left to right, and some right to left, and which those were.
For Owen's "Gamma" by marymactavish
For Owen's "Gamma", a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

I'm loving pinterest for bookmarking right now, especially saving ideas for Owen's next few years and for Christmas decor/food (we're hosting family at our place, this year -- or rather, families, all of our available families -- for a very casual Christmas day brunch.

I want Owen's first Christmas to be all lights and sparkle but as not-overwhelming as possible, and one way to manage that is to minimize travel, and maximize proximity to his bed.

There's a picture of Audrey out there in which she's pulling stuff out of a kitchen cabinet, and smiling about it. I managed to catch this shot of Owen just as he's tossing books off my geography table's shelf. I'll have to really cram them in there until he's old enough to get past that.



I just noticed the icons I have available, and it looks like tiny-Owen is the most recent! I'll have to upload something with bigger-Owen.

MVI_0413 a video by marymactavish on Flickr.

Owen is seven months old today.

One month ago, at his six-month checkup, we reported that he could sit flat on his butt if we put him there, but couldn't get there himself, and he wasn't entirely stable. When he turned suddenly to look or reach behind him, he'd topple. Now, he can sit steadily on his butt and move fluidly from there to his belly, and he can crawl like a champ (though he's not fond of our wood flooring, it's hard on his bare knees but slippery under pants, I'm thinking suede knee patches), and more startling for us, he can pull himself up onto anything and has begun cruising.

I am terrified.

Yesterday he was happily moving his hands between a chair, and the box full of books 180 degrees behind him, turning to face each thing, back and forth. When I met his eyes, I swear, he gloated.

We are doomed.

He isn't fond of avocado, cauliflower, mashed potatoes, winter squash, or carrots, so far. He likes blueberries, strawberries, bananas, mango, hummus on bread, rice cereal, apples, "mixed mexican food", baby cereal, broccoli, and, well, everything else. I have lost track.

He loves dogs, like he squeals with joy when we meet dogs out in public. Our dogs have trained him well.

He assumes everyone means him well, in fact. When we go to our beloved pharmacy, the staff greets him and comes out to chat with or even hold him. Target is the place where old people come to smile at him, just him. The world is here for Owen, and he greets it as if everyone on it is one of his loyal subjects and he is a benevolent ruler. He is a very easy child to fall head-over-heels in love with.

He used to go down for a nap easily, and he used to be freakishly not-fussy. These are fading with age, and he's becoming a normal child with normal nap resistance and normal fussiness. But these don't make him less loveable.

I'm looking so forward to the holidays with him. We're getting together in bits of family here and there, chosen and born, but also, a Big Family and extended family event, here at our home. Owen will be nine months old then, just right for loving the tissue paper and lights without being greedy about the getting. When I was little, Mom used to hang up her own socks for us as stockings. For Owen's first-thing-in-the-morning home stocking, I'm looking forward to doing that. (We'll allow the Santa-thing without trying to artificially enforce or extend it, I think, which is also what worked for me as a child.)

This kind of post is what happens when a baby's awake from 4-6 am then 7-9 am, mind you. Here, I'm sleepy. Have a post. :)

January 2013

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